Dust, diesel exhaust, delays dominate Sound Transit station amid repairs

Jan 18, 2024, 10:52 PM

sound transit westlake station...

Sound Transit's Westlake Station (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Sound Transit passengers and commuters at Westlake Station in Seattle are suffering through several annoyances — dust, noise and construction-related smells — as the agency is working to replace tracks and nearly 50 signal boxes through the downtown tunnel. The project started Jan. 13 and is expected to last through Feb. 3.

“It’s basically a construction site for the tunnel right now,” Sound Transit spokesperson John Gallagher said on the state of the station. “We’re removing tracks that are embedded in concrete. We’re removing bond boxes that carry signals for the train. Those are also embedded in the concrete. So the contractors have to sort of chip away at the concrete and get those out of there. That’s causing some dust.”

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He added riders will notice that it’s noisy due to the work. Fumes, primarily diesel exhaust from the equipment contractors are using, can cause some nausea for passengers who are sensitive to smells. But Gallagher confirmed the fumes are at a safe level.

“We wouldn’t be open for riders if it wasn’t safe,” Gallagher said. “The fumes have been measured by the fire department and determined to be at safe levels. We have four giant exhaust fans at the Westlake Station that are really throwing the air out to get as clean as possible. But there’s still going to be some lingering smell.”

Gallagher noted riders with sensitive respiratory systems may be a little uncomfortable.

In addition to the annoyances riders are putting up with, delays are sprouting up too. The work caused the Seattle tunnel to operate on a single track, slowing down the frequency of trains.

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“I’d have to get up earlier than before, I’m planning more than before,” one commuter told KIRO Newsradio. “I’d say an hour before.”

Sounds Transit said it hopes to have the station operating at its normal schedule by Feb. 5.

You can read more of Micki Gamez’s stories here. Follow Micki on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Dust, diesel exhaust, delays dominate Sound Transit station amid repairs